SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Kevin Bushling understands his son is dead, but still wants answers.
And he claimed the U.S. Army is holding back.
It’s been a decade of frustration and anger for the elder Bushling. He said repeated questions about the investigation ended with the same answer.
“That is the answer the Army has given me about every facet of this investigation is ‘I don’t know,'” said Bushling.
In 2011, his son was stationed at the military site west of Tooele. He was set to transfer and was headed to Ft. Carsen Colo. A fellow soldier was supposed to give him a ride to the Salt Lake airport.
Bushling was first considered AWOL (away without leave). Then, according to his father, the Army’s theory turned to suicide.
“All Dugway wanted to do was get me to say my son committed suicide,” he said. “They had the base chaplain call me three different times and try to coerce me into saying he was suicidal, depressed, and took his own life.”
But Bushling’s father never bought into that. He said his son had overcome the grief of losing his other bother to suicide, and his future was set. He said Joseph re-enlisted for five more years and had plans to become a registered nurse.
Bushling’s own theory lies with the soldier who was supposed to give his son a ride to the airport.
According to his private investigator, Bushling said that soldier’s story has been inconsistent.
“He called at 7 o’clock at night saying my son had left a voice mail saying he was lost in the desert and he needed help,” Bushling said. “I have my son’s phone records and my son made no phone calls on Sunday.”
Bushling claimed some of his son’s personal and military property disappeared, his laptop destroyed, and hard drive was gone.
ABC4’s calls to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division were not returned.
A lieutenant with the Tooele County sheriff’s office said they recently re-opened the case.
“We don’t have anything, nothing has come up as really suspicious yet,” said Lt. Norberto Aranda. “We have a second detective … take another look at the case to see if he sees anything that its suspicious or just leave it as a missing person.”
But Bushling said it’s a token effort by the military.
“I am tired of being lied to by all these agencies,” he said. “They’ve treated my son like ‘who cares?'”
In an Arkansas cemetery, there’s a headstone bearing Joseph Bushling’s name. But that’s it. His father hopes one day he can place Joseph’s remains at the burial site.